Thursday, November 14, 2013

DR Congo: " I trust you trust in me to mistrust you "

DW TV Germany reports

DRC ready for 'declaration' on M23 rebel defeat

After pulling out of peace talks, the Democratic Republic of Congo has said it is ready to sign a document formalizing the defeat of the M23 rebels. It accuses mediator Uganda of taking sides.

                         M23 rebel fighters who had surrendered to the Ugandan government under guard in Kisoro district

The Democratic Republic of Congo is now prepared to sign a "declaration" reflecting the defeat of M23 rebels, even though it has withdrawn from Uganda-hosted peace talks.

Given that Kinshasa has won on the ground and that is all that actually matters if M23 will not sign an agreement that complies exactly with Congolese requirements then not signing anything is a sensible position.

The DRC and M23 rebels had been due to conclude a deal on Monday (11.11.2013) but Congolese negotiators said they would not sign an agreement with a group their UN-backed army had just defeated.

I am starting to wonder why the Congolese government is going to all this effort. Uganda have made it clear that they will not hand over the rebel leadership I blogged a few days ago about  Alex Engwete's suspicions with regard to Ugandan plans for the said M23 leadership. It is time for Kinshasa to play hardball. Kinshasa should only sign an unconditional surrender with M23 and that should include a requirement that the military and political leadership of M23 should be handed over to the International Criminal Court, that is probably a dead rat that Kinshasa could stomach as a compromise to the leadership of M23 being handed over to the custody of the DR Congo.

The DRC said it wanted a simple declaration from the rebels that they would not take up arms again. It also accused Ugandan mediators of taking sides.

M23 seem to want this agreement and I am guessing they want it to make some sort of political capital and resurrect if only in their own eyes a legitimacy they have never had. Whilst M23 have never had a very firm grasp on reality one might have thought it would have dawned upon them that the only losers in this ongoing debacle are the defeated members of their former movement. Any chance however slim, of a rank and file integration into the Congolese Armed Forces ( FARDC ) must surely be gone.

Uganda have played their hand very badly. In the realpolitik world they would have been far more sensible to hand the leadership over to the ICC. Failure has a price, regardless of the behaviour of the Ugandan mediators the international perception of the Ugandan role can only be interpreted as being pro M23. As more details emerge of M23's criminal brutality Uganda will share with Rwanda the ignominy of having supported them. Something Uganda had to date largely avoided.

"We will not sign anything that is contradictory to our national interests" said DRC government spokesman Lambert Mende.

The M23 said the document arranging the terms for an end to its 20 month uprising had been agreed upon days in advance.

Quite clearly it was not agreed to, further more M23 either comply with Kinshasa's instructions and do as they are told, or shut the fuck up. They have no ability to alter the situation, that this still has not dawned on them leads me to believe the Congolese charge that Uganda has been taking sides. When M23 fled across the border into Uganda the situation on the ground in Kampala changed from peace talks to surrender that Uganda has not used its good offices to make this clear to M23 strikes me as an act of unforgivable incompetence.    

Uganda denies taking sides
Uganda rejected charges of bias in favor of M23, saying the DRC had made no formal complaint in ten months of mediation.
"Thus we take this accusation by Mr Mende as unfair, unfounded, false and unhelpful to the peace process in Congo," Ofwono Opondo, a spokesman for Uganda's government, told a news conference in Kampala.

"...unfair, unfounded, false and unhelpful to the peace process in Congo,"
It doesn't matter whether if it is fair or unfair, true or false Uganda have failed to publicly recognise that the peace process ended with M23 defeat and furthermore compounded that failure by failing to make that reality clear to M23. Kinshasa holds all the cards and Uganda has stuffed up.

U.N. experts have accused both Uganda and Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels.
Both countries deny the charges.

Uganda will be seen as a M23 backer regardless of the current reality of that situation by granting asylum to the M23 leadership. The scale of this cock up is astonishing, Uganda needs to wash its hands of the M23 leadership and hand them to the ICC . Then and only then will they be able to regain a share of the moral high ground. I will say it again, failure always has a price and Uganda will pay that price for shielding the M23 leadership from the consequences of their failure.

Gaius Kowene, DW's Goma correspondent, said people in the city were very happy that the DRC government did not sign the peace agreement. "People think there are traps in that agreement. That's why they want the government to make sure that they don't sign anything that might harm the country later," he said.

Uganda could learn from that. It is clear that Lambert Mende understands the concept of realpolitik.

Goma, a city of one million people and capital of North Kivu province, was seized by the rebels on 20 November, 2012. They departed ten days later.

M23 seem to be unaware that they are no longer in a position of power or influence. Again Uganda had the role of educating them of this fact and have failed to do so.

The fall of Goma led to a revamping of the DRC's army and the strengthening of the UN force and its mandate in Congo. When peace talks faltered, rebels were driven from all the remaining towns they occupied in recent weeks.

FARDC have gone from being a joke to a respectable military force something that doesn't seem to have dawned on the political leadership of the region. 
“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”
Philip K. Dick
Uganda seems to be taking Philip Dick's advice

Uganda is holding Sultani Makenga, M23's military commander, and several other rebels who fled the government offensive.
DRC government spokesman Mende complained that Uganda had not handed Makenga over to Congolese authorities, as agreed under a regional agreement signed in Addis Ababa earlier this year.

As I said above I think the Congolese government would accept a ICC compromise and that should be Uganda's next diplomatic play.

The head of M23's political wing Bertrand Bisimwa told DW the DRC government was "trying to get rid of M23, to sideline it, rather dealing with the causes of the conflict."

Who cares ? Bertrand Bisimwa is irrelevant, and the Congolese government has got rid of M23.

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